Hi, we’re Chalkbeat, a news site covering educational change.
Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news organization covering educational change efforts in the communities where improvement matters most. The network has bureaus in New York,Colorado, Indiana, and Tennessee. Chalkbeat was created as a merger of GothamSchools and EdNews Colorado, independent news nonprofits now known as Chalkbeat New York and Chalkbeat Colorado. Our mission is to inform the decisions and actions that lead to better outcomes for children and families by providing deep, local coverage of education policy and practice.
At Chalkbeat, we believe that great journalism, purposefully practiced, can make a big difference. By great journalism, we mean thorough, knowledgeable, and contextualized reporting that helps people make the decisions they need to improve our world.
We’re particularly focused on the challenge of improving our country’s public schools, especially in the communities where a quality education can help transform life trajectories.
As journalists, we are very comfortable disclosing that we would prefer to see students learn more, rather than less, and live richer, more fulfilling lives, rather than struggle. But we do not take a position on the best path to improving schools or even exactly what better schools should look like. Our job is to provide parents, practitioners, policymakers, and citizens with the news, context, explanation, and investigation they need to inform their debates and decisions.
Our approach has five components. We are:
- Focused on what matters most
- Rooted in local communities
- Platform agnostic
- Committed to building expertise
- Dedicated to building a sustainable model
Focused on what matters most
There are endless stories to be told about public schools, the people who work in them, and the children they serve. At Chalkbeat, we try to focus on what’s really going to matter, not just what’s happening. We do this by assessing every development through the lens of five major “storylines” we believe drive educational change:
- teaching and learning: the work happening inside schools
- politics and policymaking: the officials and advocacy groups that create school law and policy
- bureaucracy and operations: the evolving structures governing schools
- out-of-school context: the environmental factors that students bring to school
- educational tools: curriculum, textbooks, standards, and assessments
That means we don’t just report the test results each year; we also scrutinize what the tests say, how they match the local curriculum and standards (or not), and how they influence students’ classroom experience. We don’t just look at what the school board said last night; we examine what their debates and decisions will mean for the way schools are governed, educational materials are delivered, and students ultimately served. And we don’t just offer stories by our reporters; we also share contributions from practitioners, parents, and students.
Rooted in local communities
Education is fundamentally local: locally governed, locally debated, and locally practiced. That’s why Chalkbeat reporters live and work in the communities we cover.
We publish our stories on our website every day because we know that our most committed readers want a single place to find all the latest education developments. We also publish a daily newsletter delivered straight to your email.
Since our first priority is to reach our readers, we also want to publish our stories in the media you already read. That’s why we’re committed to working with distribution partners to help us achieve our mission of informing education’s diverse community.
Committed to building expertise
Too often, reporters assigned to the education beat struggle to understand the many complex challenges facing public schools and why they matter. Then, as soon as the reporters have gotten their bearings, they get pulled away by some more prestigious beat (or, lately, by budget cuts). The result is stories that can lack context and, in turn, a less informed public.
At Chalkbeat, we believe that education is one of the most important topics to cover—and one of the most challenging. Our reporters and editors care passionately about education and are committed to learning as much about it as possible. We take our jobs as information providers seriously, and so we know that we have to become as knowledgeable as we can.
Dedicated to building a sustainable model
One of the biggest challenges facing serious journalism about public policy is finding long-term sustainable support that strengthens our editorial independence. Our approach has two main components. First, as a network of local bureaus, we can share economies of scale, pulling together to build the infrastructure that a strong news organization requires.
Second, we work with diverse partners to create multiple sources of support. One key partner is philanthropy. As a nonprofit, we work with generous individual donors and foundations that believe in the power of high-quality, independent journalism. Our supporters are members of the communities we cover as well as national organizations dedicated to growing our country’s civic infrastructure.
We also work with sponsors, who can support our work while also sharing their message with our readers. To learn more about becoming a Chalkbeat sponsor, please contact us here. We also accept paid submissions to our jobs board, where the savviest education employers can connect with the most informed professionals.
While we await our 501c3 status, Chalkbeat is a project of the Colorado Nonprofit Development Center, a fiscal sponsor. We are actively building a national board with the help of three founding members who are currently serving in an advisory capacity: Sue Lehmann, Gideon Stein, and Jill Barkin.
Working with four founding reader advisors, Sanda Balaban, Chad Gleason, Steve Lazar, and Andy Snyder, we’re also working to grow a diverse, dynamic reader advisory board that guides our coverage, holds us accountable for meeting our goals, and helps us build strong relationships in our community.
Elizabeth Green is co-founder, CEO, and editor-in-chief of Chalkbeat. Elizabeth previously co-founded GothamSchools, now Chalkbeat New York, and covered education for The New York Sun and U.S. News & World Report. She has also written about education issues for The New York Times Magazine. Elizabeth serves on the board of the Education Writers Association. In 2009-2010, she was a Spencer Fellow in education journalism at Columbia University, and in 2011, she was an Abe Journalism Fellow studying education in Japan. Her book, Building a Better Teacher, will be published in August 2014 by W. W. Norton.
Alan Gottlieb, co-founder of Chalkbeat, founded Education News Colorado (now Chalkbeat Colorado) in 2008. After a post-college stint in the Peace Corps (Ecuador) Gottlieb spent 15 years as a newspaper journalist, then moved into the world of education policy as a foundation program officer before returning to journalism. Alan is the author of two books: In the Shadow of the Rockies, a book about the inaugural season of Denver’s Major League baseball team. and the novel Ultimate Excursions. A native of Chicago’s South Side, Alan has a B.A. in English from The Colorado College and an M.S.J. from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.
Rebecca Ross is Chalkbeat’s Chief Operating Officer. Rebecca has over fifteen years of experience designing innovative programs and products that create social impact and building the capacity of organizations that execute them. She has been a Vice President at ideas42 and Seedco where her work focused on issues of poverty, education and financial services for the poor in New York City and nationally. Rebecca has a BA from Vassar College and a MPA from the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Institute of Government.
Philissa Cramer is managing editor of Chalkbeat. She previously co-founded GothamSchools, now Chalkbeat New York, and was its bureau chief until 2014. Prior to that, she was a reporter at Insideschools and contributed to the third edition of New York City’s Best Public High Schools. Philissa has also written about education issues for the Village Voice, the Nation, and the New Republic.
Anika Anand is the director of engagement for Chalkbeat and was previously a reporter for GothamSchools. She has been published on California Watch, MSNBC.com, Salon, the New York Daily News and others. She graduated from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism with a master’s degree in business and economics reporting and studied journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Sarah Glen is Chalkbeat’s engagement associate. Before joining the Chalkbeat team, she was a features producer at Digital First Media’s Project Thunderdome. She studied journalism and political science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she also worked at The Daily Tar Heel, started a mobile-optimized news site with Reese News Lab and blogged about the 2012 election for The Washington Post.
Sarah Darville is the acting bureau chief for Chalkbeat New York. She joined the team as a reporter in 2013 after working as an intern in 2011. She is a graduate of Columbia University, where she edited the Columbia Daily Spectator, and was a 2013 Google Journalism Fellow at the Nieman Journalism Lab. She has also written for the New York Daily News, the South Florida Sun Sentinel, and BKLYNR.
Daarel Burnette II is the bureau chief of Chalkbeat Tennessee. He previously worked as an education reporter at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Louisville Courier-Journal. He also worked as a general assignment reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He received his undergraduate degree in print journalism from Hampton University and an M.A. in politics and journalism from Columbia University.
Scott Elliott, the founding bureau chief of Chalkbeat Indiana, is an award-winning journalist who has covered education for 18 years. Previously, he was the education reform reporter at the Indianapolis Star and before that a pioneer in reporting on school choice and in education blogging. As the education reporter at the Dayton Daily News in Ohio from 1999 to 2008, he covered an explosion of charter schools in Dayton that made the city the nation’s No. 1 charter school marketplace from 2000 to 2005. His blog, Get on the Bus, was just the third mainstream media education blog when it launched in 2005. He is a former Knight-Wallace journalism fellow at the University of Michigan.
Maura Walz is the bureau chief of Chalkbeat Colorado. Before moving to Denver in 2013, she covered public education in Georgia for the Southern Education Desk and Georgia Public Broadcasting. She previously reported on New York City public schools for Chalkbeat New York (then GothamSchools). In addition to her work in Georgia and New York, Walz has written about education issues around the country for NBCNews.com and the Carnegie-Knight online journalism initiative News21. She came to journalism and the education beat after working as an editor of scholarly research databases outside of Washington, D.C. She is a graduate of the University of Chicago and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.
Foundations that have given from 2012-2014:
- Arabella New Venture Fund
- Brett Family Foundation
- Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
- Carson Foundation
- Colorado Health Foundation
- Community Foundation of Greater Memphis
- Daniels Fund
- Davis Foundation
- Donnell-Kay Foundation
- Eli Lilly and Company, Inc.
- Ford Foundation
- Friedman Foundation
- Gates Family Foundation
- Greater Memphis Community Foundation
- Hyde Foundation
- Joe Davis Foundation
- John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
- I Dream a World Foundation
- INNovation Fund
- La Vida Feliz Foundation
- Lumina Foundation
- Mai Family Foundation
- Moriah Fund
- Piton Foundation
- Rita Allen Foundation
- Sea Change Capital Partners
- Walton Family Foundation
Individuals who have made charitable gifts of more than $100 from 2012-2014
- Marco Antonio Abarca
- Kristin Alcouffe
- John Anderson
- Paul Appelbaum
- Bruce Broderius
- Chris Buck
- Jill Conrad
- Mary Conway-Spiegel
- Boykin Curry
- Lesley Dahlkemper
- Christel DeHaan
- Justin Elghanayan
- Adrienne Fasse
- Jill Fellman
- Roger Fiedler
- Karen Fisher
- Brett Fuhrman
- Chris Gabrieli
- Jane Goff
- Harry and Jean Gottlieb
- John Green
- Gaelen Hadlett
- Mark Hesse
- Ken Hirsh
- Roger Kilgore
- Charlie Ledley
- Sue Lehmann
- Jonathan Lewinsohn
- Valerie Marcus
- Colin Moran
- Bill Myers
- Buffy Naake
- Norwood Robb
- Geoffrey Roehm
- Susan Sawyers
- Katharine Shoemaker
- Anne Sneed
- Gully Stanford
- Rob Stein
- Almirrah Tiller
- Whitney Tilson
- Robert & Betty Tointon
- Eric Tucker
- William Weintraub
- Andrea Weiss
- Richard Wenning